A COMBINATION of modern technology and medieval claptrap has led to the creation of a demon-busting hotline in Milan.
According to this report, the hotline was set up to deal with a barrage of requests from people who imagine that they, or those close to them, had been invaded by demonic squatters.
Monsignor Angelo Mascheroni, the Milan diocese’s chief exorcist since 1995, said the curia had also increased the number of exorcists from six to 12 to cope with a doubled increase in the number of requests for help over 15 years.
We get many requests for names, addresses and phone numbers; that’s why we’ve set up a switchboard in the curia from Monday to Friday from 2.30pm to 5pm.
People in need can call and will be able to find a priest in the same area who doesn’t have to travel too far.
The Monsignor said he knew of one exorcist who had been seeing up to 120 people a day.
But with so little time per client he was only able to offer a quick blessing. That’s not enough. There should be two to four appointments a day, no more, otherwise it’s too much.
It’s not clear why the number of suspected possessions has risen so sharply. But Monsignor Mascheroni said that part of the increase might be explained by the rising numbers of parents having difficulty controlling disobedient teenagers.
Usually the parents call [because they are] concerned about a child who won’t go to school or who’s taking drugs or rebelling. In reality it’s not a demon, but when they’re 18 years old young people don’t want to be told what to do.
Surprisingly for the Catholic Church, which is always seeking ways of filling its coffers, calls will not be charged at premium rates.
Magicians demand money; we … give our time, give benediction … all for free. It couldn’t be any other way.
Mascheroni added a warning that many worried and vulnerable people were at risk from charlatans.
The Monsignor said that all those who sought help were welcomed. But he added:
The real diabolical phenomena, at least in my experience, are very rare.
He said that “mental phenomena, mental and psychiatric disorders” were often to blame for unusual behaviour.
In this respect he is clearly at odds with Father Gabriele Amorth, who was the Vatican’s chief exorcist for 25 years. Amorth, who claims to have dealt with 70,000 cases of demonic possession, said that sex abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church were proof that “the Devil is at work inside the Vatican”.
He also claimed that satanic behaviour lay behind Vatican attempts to “cover up” the deaths of Alois Estermann, then commander of the Swiss Guard, his wife and another Swiss Guard, Corporal Cedric Tornay, in 1998.
The dotty old crank also took a dim view of fantasy novels and yoga. Practising the latter, he once warned, was:
Satanic; it leads to evil just like reading Harry Potter.
Exorcism is defined by the Catholic Encyclopaedia as:
The act of driving out, or warding off, demons, or evil spirits, from persons, places, or things which are believed to be possessed or infested by them, or are liable to become victims or instruments of their malice.
Exorcism has been practised by the Church for centuries, but its use has increased dramatically over the last half century.
Hat tip: Angela K, BarrieJohn and Agent Cormac